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FAQs on ""Chinese"" "Algae Eaters": Identification

Related Articles: Algae Eaters, Algae Control in Freshwater Aquariums by Bob Fenner, Dealing With Algae in Freshwater Aquaria by Neale Monks, (some) Algae (in moderation) Can Be Your Friend, ppt presentation, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, by Bob Fenner, OtocinclusLoricariidsSiamese Algae Eaters/Crossocheilus

FAQs on: Chinese Algae Eaters (CAEs), Gyrinocheilus aymonieri 1, CAEs 2,
FAQs on: CAE Behavior, CAE Compatibility, CAE Selection/Stkg., CAE Systems, CAE Feeding, CAE Disease, CAE Reproduction,
Related FAQs: Algae Control, Freshwater "Scavengers", Aquarium MaintenanceFreshwater Aquarium Water Quality, Treating Tap Water for Aquarium Use, pH, Alkalinity, Acidity, Freshwater Algae Control, Algae Control, Foods, Feeding, Aquatic Nutrition, Disease

Fish ID          3/10/17
I've been really busy packing and such for vacation that I haven't even had time to check my own email. A coworker of mine sent me some pictures and wanted a fish identified. Pretty sure it's freshwater but I haven't really looked at it too well. Photos attached. Not sure if they're too big or not.
Please let me know when you get these.
Gabe Walsh
WWM Crew
<At first glance; this looks, looked like an Eelpout or such (family Zoarcidae)... Some relatives are freshwater, but most all are marine. Any chance of a larger, full-body pic? Bob Fenner>

Re: Fish ID          3/10/17
That's all the info they had for me. Thanks for the help.
Gabe Walsh
<Will post on WWM (and would on Facebook if the pix were bigger); hopeful someone will chime in. BobF>
Re: Fish ID          3/10/17

Here they are again. I'm sending them actual size. May be too big for WetWeb.
Gabe Walsh
<Thanks Gabe; have cropped, spiffed and posted on FB for help. B>

Re: Fish ID          3/10/17
<Gabe.... what the? Is this a leucistic Gyrinocheilus aymonieri? A CAE?!!!
Here they are again. I'm sending them actual size. May be too big for WetWeb.
Re: Fish ID          3/10/17

You seem excited about this. Did I miss something? :) Rare find?
<Not rare; excited because it IS so common. B>
Gabe Walsh
Re: Fish ID          3/10/17

Ok. I never considered it being a CAE. It looks to me like the mouth is on the topside of the head unlike a normal CAE.
<.... no>
You think for sure that's what it is?
<Highly likely an "albino" (not albino) CAE; olde>
I haven't done freshwater in years...
Gabe Walsh
WWM Crew

Unknown catfish   6/11/12
Hello crew! I recently bought a tank off my cousin that was small and neglected in hopes to save his fish from hardships.
<Nice of you to help out.>
He had 6 fish that i temporarily added to my own tank in hopes of cleaning the ten gallon that i got. My 15 gallon, pristine and exceptionally cared for is housed to my dearest black blotch cichlid who usually lives alone and tends to be an aggressive male.
<Not really sure what a "black blotch cichlid" might be. Do you mean Vieja maculicauda, the Black Belt Cichlid? A large, almost entirely herbivorous species.>
I plan on getting a 50 gallon soon for my best friend who is said to grow a foot?
<Vieja maculicauda can certainly get to almost that size, though 20-25 cm/8-10 inches is more typical.>
Well I've had this guy for a while and while he is only six inches he managed to eat a couple of the fish i got while i wasn't looking.
<Are you feeding him enough green foods? They are almost 100% herbivores in the wild, and unless you give enough greens, obviously it won't grow or do well. It also needs an adequately large tank, and if kept in a 15 gallon tank, then chances are you may have stunted the fish, unless you did very frequent water (daily!) changes.>
He ate a Danio and a tetra of some sort.
<Not good.>
Now the other two danios are a little tattered too. They weren't doing too well when i first got them but are fine now. The other two fish are cats, my misguided cousin didn't have adequate tanks and knowledge, and had given me a Chinese that was 8 inches which i brought to my local pet store in hopes of finding him a better home.
<What's a "Chinese"? Do you mean the so-called Chinese Algae Eater, Gyrinocheilus aymonieri, a fish that doesn't come from China and doesn't eat much algae.>
So the biggest question here is for species suggestions for this other cat. This cat is very small, about six inches and is dominantly orange with a few black splatters about him.
<Is this the golden morph of Gyrinocheilus aymonieri?
They're about the commonest golden fish that might be mistaken for a catfish (they're not catfish or even loaches, but their own special kind of bottom-dwelling fish). Other options include albino Corydoras (often Corydoras paleatus), albino Ancistrus ("Bristlenose Catfish"), and albino Plecs (Pterygoplichthys species).>
This fish has the typical wide mouth and barbells, and though it hides all the time with my cichlid who doesn't see him as food i could tell that this cat has a typical slender shape down to the tail. I cannot identify him as i cant catch more than a glance of his side while he hides. I can honestly say that i don't expect my new danios to last long being that my parents will not allow me to set up this new tank now that I've cleaned it. My cichlid is bound to eat them too.
<Likely, especially if hungry/not given enough greens.>
So the cichlid and the cat both should grow rather large but i plan on a larger tank to house them both. Another question is how to treat the cat so that he is more trusting. I managed to get my cichlid over time to stop hiding and be friendly when he isn't mad that i cleaned the tank and got gravel in his home! Any suggestions?
<If these "cats" are both Gyrinocheilus aymonieri, they are extremely territorial and WILL NOT get along in one tank.>
Also i have a smaller version of a bio filter i already use from my cousin. I took the old carbon out and plan on using it just as another bio. My cichlid isn't bothered by a lot
<…a lot…>
of movement in my tank but would the catfish like calmer waters too? Thanks a lot! _matt
<Welcome, Neale.>
re: Unknown catfish   6/11/12

Your right about the cichlid, and i will be giving him a better tank. I will construct a better diet as soon as i get off work today. He was rather large when i got him a month ago so i am not worried about stunting as you cant stunt something that is already grown.
<Quite so. Fish grow throughout their lives, but once they get above a certain age -- usually within a year for cichlids -- that growth rate slows right down to almost imperceptible amounts. So while your fish may grow a little more, especially if moved to a much bigger tank, it's unlikely he'll ever reach the maximum size for this species.>
However i will make she he is not cramped. The Chinese i spoke about is the exact fish you mentioned. I knew that it would be to much which is why i brought it to a dealer right away. As for the other fish ill look at info for the suggested species and see if it all adds up. Thank you so much -
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>

CAE?   1/15/12
Dear WWM,
Thanks for all the helpful info on your site. Sometimes I sit here for ages just reading ... LOL
I have a quick question: I'm hoping you can ID a fish that was given to me the other day by a well meaning family member.
These fish are sold as "sucker catfish" in Australia but I'm deeply suspicious that what I now have is 2 CAEs.
<You are indeed correct. Two juvenile Gyrinocheilus aymonieri; a fish that doesn't come from China and doesn't eat much algae, so the Chinese Algae-Eater name is really not very accurate!>
(Which are not suitable for eating the algae in the Betta tank... I now have Cherry Shrimp to do that.)
<Quite so. In their way, not bad fish; I kept mine in a 200-gallon system with Central American cichlids. But they're big, aggressive when mature, and only eat algae when young, being much lazier as adults, preferred to scavenge on leftover fish food if they can.>
Hopefully the pics attached are good enough for an ID.
<Most welcome, Neale.>

Huge Otocinclus... CAE
Non-Otocinclus Questions  11/20/09

Dear Crew- I am re-sending this as I was having computer issues and am not sure it was sent the first time. I am very eager to find out your thoughts on my issues (fish related ones, that is) that I thought I'd give it another try. Hope I don't appear too impatient....
You have helped me before with mollies and platy, and now I am eager to find out what you think may be going on with my Otos. Sadly, the mollies with which you helped me before are no longer with us. I currently maintain a 10 gal tank with 2 Otos, 3 Zebra Danio and 1 platy. I perform 20-30% water changes weekly, and my water tests are 0 ammonia and 0-5 nitrate/trite.
pH levels maintain at 7.5 I feed the fish Omega Flakes. The Oto love their algae wafers and deal with the Nori.
My question about the Oto is as follows:
1. He is HUGE compared to the other. Is this a normal size for an Oto?
He measure nearly 4 inches from head to tail. He appears healthy, if not a bit pale since adopted. The other Oto is the requisite 1.5 inches with a nice fat tummy.
2. The giant Oto (picture attached) spends most of his time eating or digging in the same corner of the tank. As he is so big, rocks are flung around as he digs and he creates quite the commotion. I am concerned this is stress related, but would like your opinion.
3. How do I purposefully grow green algae to supplement my Otos? I love watching the Otos and understand they are not as easy to care for as advertised in the stores. I would like them to have the most nutritious food possible, and enjoy the idea of growing algae for them. After reading an article on the site, I am inclined to get driftwood for the tank.
However, with the voracious appetite of Bruce, do I need to do anything special to get the algae going?
Thank you for your time and help. I have learned so much already from your site, and hope to become more knowledgeable about my Otos.
< Your Chinese algae eaters can get up to 5 inches plus. At that size they are rather bothersome to other fish and are actually pretty poor algae eaters compared to Plecos and real Otos. Algae will grow when the conditions are right. Too much light and too many nutrients in the water.
Better to feed Spirulina flakes or wafers.-Chuck>

Question about nasty Chinese Algae Eaters!   8/11/08 Hi there, <Megan,> I recently bought a 28 gallon tank from my neighbour. Excited to get started, I went and bought myself six guppies (who now have babies! Woohoo!), six neon tetras, two small Gouramis, <Colisa lalia by any chance? Do read my writings on this species elsewhere on WWM -- extremely poor quality stock in the trade, and serious problems with viral diseases mean that you must choose your specimens with the utmost care.> and four barbs. <And what, pray tell, are these Barbs? Do be aware that many barbs (e.g., Tiger Barbs) are notorious fin nippers when kept in too small a group (realistically less than a dozen) and your Fancy Guppies will be mincemeat once they get started.> I have live plants in my tank and I bought one algae eater to begin with. <If this is Gyrinocheilus aymonieri, this is too large for your tank (up to 35 cm/14") and extremely aggressive.> After a couple days I thought my algae eater was looking a little lonely. <They don't get lonely. They are territorial. Please be extremely careful about transposing human feelings onto animals. This path leads to all kinds of problems! Instead, research the animal and then act accordingly. Trying to cater to an animals social needs is absolutely the right thing to do. But those needs are not necessarily the same as ours. In fact they very rarely are.> I don't know much about algae eaters but I thought, what the heck? I went to the pet store and got three more of what I thought were the same type. A couple days later, my neighbour came over to visit and made a terrible discovery - I'd purchased three Chinese algae eaters. <Oh dear, yes, this is Gyrinocheilus aymonieri, possibly the single worst commonly traded fish in the hobby.> Now, one of them is growing rapidly and becoming very aggressive. The other two are growing, but not as fast. My neighbour seems to think the fourth algae eater (my original one) is of the same family, but we can't find it in books anywhere. It's almost albino looking - pale in colour and other than that, very similar looking to a Chinese algae eater. <Likely the "Golden" morph. If it has the same shape and look, but is just sort of yellowy-pink, that's the beast. Gyrinocheilus aymonieri also have very distinctive gill covers, with small holes at the top that allow the fish to breath in and out through the gills. As you probably know, most other fish breath in through the mouth, and out through the gills.> The pale algae eater isn't growing nearly as fast, however. I don't know what to do with them, so I want to know if you have any suggestions. I've tried just giving them to people, but no one seems to want them, and I can understand why! <Yep.> I can't bring myself to kill them unless it's completely pain free, and I've noticed on your website there are a couple different ways of doing so. <If in doubt, consult a vet. With large fish, the simple methods recommended for use with Neons and the like may be inappropriate. Large fish will need to be sedated first, then destroyed.> But before I take that route, I want to know if there is anything else I can do, and if you can give me any more information on them. <These are actually acceptable fish in certain situations, e.g., big cichlid tanks. They really need systems 750 litres/200 gallons upwards, where they are dynamic and attractive fish. So if you've called the local tropical fish shops and they won't take them, try joining some tropical fish forums and bulletin boards, and advertising on their "trade/swap/freebie" sections.> I really don't want them hurting my fish, especially my beautiful little Gouramis who are peaceful. <Indeed.> Any help would be appreciated! Thanks Megan <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Question about nasty Chinese Algae Eaters!   8/11/08 Hello again! <Hail and well met.> Okay, so instead of trying to explain visually what everything looked like for proper identification, I decided to send pictures... probably would have been a smart move in the first place eh? <Right, the golden barb is Puntius sachsii, a species that gets to about 8 cm/3" in length. Like all barbs its sociable, so the more you have, the less likely it is to cause problems. But this isn't a particularly nippy species and with luck you should be okay. The algae eater and the golden algae eater are both Gyrinocheilus aymonieri, the big, nasty bruiser I was talking about last time around. The Gouramis are Colisa lalia, in my opinion and utter waste of money. You appear to have two males, one of the "Red" variety and one of "Powder Blue" variety. Same species, same problems. I'm not saying they're bound to die after a short miserable life, but a lot of the do. Do a Google search for 'Dwarf Gourami Iridovirus' to learn more.> Thanks for the information on my algae eaters. I hate it that pet stores employ people with little or no knowledge about the species they're giving you. I asked specifically for two small, calm algae eaters. I assumed even though I didn't know much about them, the people they had working there probably would. I recall the girl giving me a confused face and then saying "Oh, yeah, these are what you want then!" <Agreed. Problem is that people often buy fish without researching them, going by price/colour first, and provided there's a market, retailers will stock them.> Note to self: Just because the fish is small at the time it's bought, doesn't mean it can't grow to over a foot long. And, also, those Chinese algae eaters don't look any different then an ugly old trout when they grow up. <They're not ugly fish when they're grown up. They're rather handsomely marked. But they certainly aren't community tank fish.> I forgot to mention that I only asked for two and received a little freebie in my bag - bringing me to three plus one mystery fish. <The photo labeled "Mystery Guy" is a golden morph of Gyrinocheilus aymonieri. The same species as the fish labeled "Evil". Notice how I use Latin names? Avoids all complications because this way everyone knows precisely what fish is being discussed. While you might think using Latin names is awkward, it actually dramatically simplifies fish shop shopping.> Argh. <Quite.> Anyways, I am going to call the pet store today and see if they will take them off my hands. And your idea about the forums was a great one! So I guess my next question would be what can I get to replace them that's going to be calm and friendly and preferably not cost me my next month's rent? <If you want small algae eaters, then the safest bets are Nerite snails (harmless, don't breed, don't damage plants); Cherry Shrimps (colourful, small, but will be killed by fish medications, as will snails by the way); and Bristlenose Cats (Ancistrus spp.).> I have attached a couple pictures. One of my Gouramis, my barbs and my mystery algae eater. Thanks for your advice, it's all really useful! <Cool.> (PS - I am a sucker for placing human attributes on animals - I'm constantly thinking "oh, he looks so lonely!", when in fact the fish would rather be alone and I just assume it needs "friends".) <Note I'm not saying animals don't have feelings or don't like people. Animals surely do have feelings, just not the same ones as ours. Likewise many animals enjoy human company. Goldfish for example positively thrive when looked after well and attentively, as do most cichlids and pufferfish. Cheers, Neale.>

Gold and wild type Chinese algae eater... Wherefore art these?   3/14/07 Hello,           I know that the so-called "Chinese Algae Eater" is a wild-caught species, <Mmm, not usually... has been largely cultured the last few decades> but is the "gold" albino variant wild-caught, <No, it is captive-produced as well> as well. I am not a fan of man-made fish, and so have no use for the gold variant if it does not occur in the wild. Thanks. Bill Day-Skowhegan, Maine <Mmm... well, for the sake of clarity... the flavistic CAE is the result of fortuitous accident, and perpetuation through selective breeding... No Frankenstein, genetic manipulation involvement. Bob Fenner>

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